Changing My Child's Visitation Schedule through Post Divorce Modification
August 5, 2015
No matter how well thought-out a visitation order may be, various factors could necessitate a change in the status quo. Generally, in order to change a visitation schedule, the parents either need to agree to a change, or there must be some change in circumstances between the initial order and request for a change.
Any official change in visitation order must be approved by the court. Typically, you will file the request for modification in the same court that issued the original visitation order. In most situations, you will go in front of the same judge.
The first step in preparing a request to change visitation is to identify concrete changes that have occurred since your initial order. Have your child's school situation, extra-curricular activities, or other obligations significantly changed? Has your work situation or housing situation changed? Is the other parent behaving in a way that makes visitation more difficult?
The second step is to show that the change in visitation would be in the child's interest. Typically, a judge will consider many different factors to determine the child's best interest. These may include how the changes would impact your child's relationship with relatives, your child's adjustment to school and the community, and—depending on your child's age—your child's wishes. In some cases, the court may appoint a special assistant, called a Guardian ad Litem, to investigate the background of the case and recommend how the judge should rule. In other cases, the judge may also appoint an attorney to represent the child's wishes.
No matter the reason for a change, you should contact an experienced family law attorney in your area to determine how the law in your area will impact your ability to obtain a post-decree visitation modification.